Tag Archives: gamers who think

The Joys of “Dumb” Fun

I love Dynasty Warriors.  It is completely ridiculous, hard to follow, and the voice work is so bad it makes you cringe. Yet, I cannot get enough of that game. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t buy every iteration of the series, but it is one I come back to every handful of years. It is completely brainless in its action, and it doesn’t take much to understand what the game wants you to do.  Its the video game equivalent of a “popcorn flick.”  There’s no real substance to it, and that’s okay by me.

 

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Screw Lu Bu. Seriously, for eight games the guy has been a total dick…

 

Normally, the games I play (and then in turn write about) are the types that are trying to convey some sort of message or tell a story in one fashion or another.  Usually, these games are fantastic, and move the art form forward.  This is always a good thing.  Yet, like the movies, not every game can be Oscar bait; there always has to be a Transformers.  A movie, or in this case a game, that reminds us that the medium can just be about “fun.”

The More You Know...

The More You Know…

Frank O’Connor of 343 Studios said that Halo was about finding the five seconds of fun, and then repeating it throughout the course of the player’s experience in the game.  In that game’s case its about that combination of shoot, grenade, melee, repeat.  They built a whole multi-million dollar franchise on that simple concept.  Dynasty Warriors is about taking on and defeating multitudes of nameless enemies by the hundreds and Gears of War is about chainsaws and “bros.”  None of these games are bad by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, its quite the opposite.  Yet, the majority of these are not game of the year contenders either.  They exist purely for the fun of the player.

 

Just a little bit of chin music...

Just a little bit of chin music…

 

Games like these are good for the industry. They exist as “palette cleansers,” “guilty pleasures,” and many other things.  Games like Halo and Gears of War are the summer blockbusters of the gaming world and are amazing experiences.  We need games like this.  Not everything needs to strive to be a Journey or Thomas was Alone.  Sometimes, we just want to play a game.

 

 

Escapism doesn’t have to be a bad word, and for many people who play games, that is the number one reason they choose to.  They want to experience something fantastic, they want to try something new, to see some strange new world and be the big damn hero.  That’s why Destiny and Infamous Second Son looks so appealing to me; they are both taking me to a different place and time and letting me experience something that I never will.

 

The only thing this game needs is Tauntauns...

The only thing this game needs is Tauntauns…

 

For every Fez, Hotline Miami, and The Witness; there needs to be a Call of Duty, Titanfall, or Ratchet game.  There is a place for all types of stories and mechanics in this industry, and with the upcoming generation there will be even more opportunity to see all sides of this entertainment medium explored.  So whatever your tastes; now more than ever, is a great time to be a gamer.  Enjoy it for how it makes you think…and how is sometimes gloriously doesn’t.

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Thinkcast Vol. 2 Ep. 2

Well, here it is, folks!

 

We got ourselves together again to discuss games, and other things like Turtles, Phil Fish, and Batman….always more Batman.  Feel free to comment below and don’t forget to rate and review on iTunes as well! Thanks!

 

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 “I said in my presentation that I’m part of the problem. I did the same games for 15 years. I did games about a character that jumps around with a sword. So it’s my fault, but we’re all getting a bit older, and it’s time to try something else. The reason we’re now thinking about it is that, technologically, we see we can do something more.

In the way you interact with the game world, it’s much easier to destroy than create. When you get into more subtle subject matter, which is about human interactions, it’s tough.”

-Patrice Desilets on Game Creation via GamesIndustry.biz

In Search of New Experiences

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That’s a Hulking Problem…

The modding community has always been a source of fun and inspiration for gamers everywhere.  They’ve combined universes, created whole new experiences, and otherwise give us enjoyment by tinkering with some of our favorite games.  Here’s a clip of a new mod for GTAIV on the PC that may tickle that fantasy of wanton destruction….

 

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“If players are excited that means we are doing something right,”

-Shuhei Yoshida President of Sony Worldwide Development Studios

Aptly Put…

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Best Things to Do During the Summer Game Drought..

Well, it’s the summer again, and that means absolutely nothing is coming out anytime soon!  (This is especially true this year because of the upcoming console launches.)  Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and not be bored.  Here is our, Best Things to Do During the Summer (When Nothing Seems to be Coming Out)

 

1) Play The Last of Us

Seriously; why have you all not played this yet?  This is the frontrunner for game of the generation and is easily Playstation 3’s best exclusive game.  It will take you on an emotional roller-coaster and leave you wondering what all that was about.  I refuse to speak of any of the game’s narrative points in this post, but suffice it to say, this is a MUST play.  Then, once you’ve beaten it, play it again on Hard….then Survivor…the Hard+ ….and Survivor+…..and the multiplayer is good too…….

 

 

2) Enjoy the games you might have missed over the Holidays (or the New Year)

Okay, none of us have enough money to buy all the stuff we want to play. (Disclaimer: There might be people who enough money that they CAN buy all the games they want to play, but I’m assuming that most of us don’t.)  As such, there are probably some things that got missed in the shuffle this year.  Did you miss Sleeping Dogs, Darksiders II, Dishonored, or X-COM.  What about the downloadables that might have slipped off your radar?  Games like Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Guacamelee, Sound Shapes, Journey, Mark of the Ninja, and The Unfinished Swan all come to mind, and should be played.  There is probably a backlog of games that you like that are now totally cheap.  Take advantage of all your newfound free time and play some of them.  They might make your list of best games you played THIS year….

 

 

3) Clean up that Pile of Shame

We all have one of these too.  Games that are in our collections that have been left unfinished.  Whether it is a JRPG you just got bored with, or a game that you liked that got put to the wayside because something else came out; you should hunker down and complete it….or get rid of it.  You will want to have a clean slate going into your new console and so when fall hits, all bets are off.  The odds of you going back and finishing these things gets slimmer and slimmer the longer that new system sits in your living room, so take advantage of this time and finish some of those guys up.  You also don’t want dead weight in your collection either, so if you know you’re not going back, and there is no emotional attachment to it, be done with it.  Cull the heard….

 

 

4) Watch E3 Videos….then Pine over Them…

A lot of stuff gets announced at E3, and if you have a job…I doubt you’ve seen all the coverage and interviews.  What better way to get excited for what’s coming than by looking at all in lovely HD video.  IGN has tons of hours of content that will last you through the summer and beyond; making the wait for the fall all that much harder. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but they are idiots. Watch as much of that stuff as possible…Greg Miller makes some good jokes.

 

 

5) Enjoy your other hobbies

I try to do other stuff besides write about and play games.  Now that the summer is here, I have more time to indulge in said activities.  Read some books, go to the beach, rock climb; whatever tickles your fancy.  You have some spare time on your hands, so go enjoy it in a way that you know you will.  I’ve already downed a couple of books that have been on my shelf, and I’ve been indulging my outdoorsy tendencies occasionally too. Find something else that you love and do it…like this guy….

 

 

or maybe not….that guy is crazy

 

 

6) Troll the Internet

Just Kidding…don’t be that guy.

 

7) Play The Last of Us

Please refer back to Number 1

 

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Here’s How a PS4 is Born…

Guys and Girls,

We’re all excited about the new consoles coming out this fall.  Some of us make like certain ones more than others (cough Sony cough) but this is an exciting time nonetheless.  What is always interesting is why certain choices were made in development, why certain tech specs made the cut, or why features got thrown out.  Very rarely do we get a look into that side of the industry.  Luckily, thanks to Mark Cerny, we have that clarity in regards to Sony’s new system.  So, without further adieu, here is Mark Cerny’s Game Lab talk, about the birth of a next gen system.

 

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Modern Music – Brought to by…the WiiU?

I’ve always enjoyed music that uses real world sounds as its base.  It’s relatively new concept, musically speaking, but it can create some really interesting soundscapes.  Enter tonight’s musical selection.  Though it eventually takes some samples from New Super Mario Brothers U, initially it is all from the system itself. It’s pretty cool stuff. Coming up tomorrow will be our predictions on the Game Critics E3 Awards, so speculate away as to what you think will be taking the win.

 

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An Explanation of the Cloud…From Someone Who Knows…

Microsoft has gotten a lot of hate in recent months from all their policies, flip-flopping, and lack of communication.  That’s why it is not surprising that it is one of the developers, making one of their top tier games, explains what is actually going on in “the cloud.”

 

John Shiring works at Respawn and is working on a little game called Titanfall.  So, this is the type of guy who probably knows what’s going on.  It’s a real interesting read and explains things far better than anything Microsoft has said…

 

http://www.respawn.com/news/lets-talk-about-the-xbox-live-cloud/

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When the Saints Come Marching In…

Saints Row: The Third is the epitome of a guilty pleasure game for me.  It is crass, over the top, crude, and narratively hollow.  Yet, despite all of that, I had a blast playing through it.  There is something to be said for flying a jet through a city, or a random zombie outbreak in the middle of a gang war, or even an immature joke about pony-play.  Now, the game isn’t for everybody.  There is definitely an argument to be made about whether you let a kid play a game that lets you kill hookers with a giant purple dildo bat; but that is neither here, nor there.  The point is; Saints Row is fun, and probably one of the better games to come out that year.

 

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The interesting part about Saint’s Row is that it didn’t begin in the niche that it finds itself in now.  The easiest way to describe it all is to look at the Evil Dead movies.  Evil Dead was a horror movie that happened to be unintentionally funny at points.  Evil Dead II was a also a horror movie, but they purposely embraced some of the humorous aspects this go around.  By the time you hit Army of Darkness, the movie is full on comedy and completely nuts.  That, to me, is Saints Row. The first game was a well made GTA clone, that came out at the right time to garner some popularity. The second was a refinement, but ran with the humor a bit; and the third was spectacularly crazy.  Saints Row: The Third gave players a world to play with, one that was at their fingertips, to do whatever they wanted in.  They also gave you a story, one that was so ridiculous, you would believe every cliche they threw at you was genius.  Clones? Check. Zombies? Check. Racial Stereotypes? Check? Tron References? Check.  It was all in there, and though you could easily poke holes through it all; but why would you?

 

SaintsRow2

 

This fall, Saints Row IV is coming out and it seems like Volition is trying to recapture that magic again.  Now, they have put you in control of the country, as the President, and you must fight off the alien invasion…with your superpowers.  Yeah, that sounds like the logical extension of all of this.  It looks to be more of the same over the top humor we have come to expect from the series; but unlike last time, there are more obstacles in front of it.  The biggest is the fact that Grand Theft Auto V comes out a month later.  Though they are both thematically quite different, it is hard to argue that people won’t be comparing the two.  It is also coming out in the shadow of new consoles and people might just be saving their cash for a big launch day purchase.  Fact is, the fourth in this series seems to have its work cut out for it.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LYfCs5bfyI%5D

 

My bigger worry is whether or not this type of game has much of a future left in it.  The gameplay and the freedom that these games have always given has been extraordinary.  The depth of the customization, the size of the world, and how completely you can screw it all up have been amazing, but its hard to say if it will be enough this time.  The industry is leaning more and more towards a cinematic style and tone, and this type of goofy excursion doesn’t seem to fit the bill.  Look at the other games that are coming out this fall:

-Beyond: Two Souls – Ellen Paige stars and it’s a David Cage game – no further explanation required

-SplinterCell: Blacklist – The equivalent of the summer blockbuster – your espionage thriller

-Infamous: Second Son – Completely mo-capped and is about standing up to the system

-Watch Dogs – another espionage/spy tech thriller

and oh yeah

-Grand Theft Auto V – The video game equivalent of a Guy Richie film

 

SaintsRow4

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that Saints Row has its place in the industry, I just think that specific space may be shrinking.  The medium is maturing and growing, and with it comes growing pains.  I’ll be curious to see what the sales numbers are as they come out when it releases later this fall; because I fear that the expectations may be a bit too high.  Time will tell, as it always does.  “Stupid-fun” will never go away; it will always be a part of games in one way or another.  The question is, is there enough of a base to support a AAA development team’s vision of large scale “stupid fun.”  Now, that’s a “smart” question…Nonetheless, if you’ll all excuse me, I need to go back to playing The Last of Us.

 

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